Works on the Táin Bó Cúailnge

By Mythopedia Staff
Translated by Joseph Dunn1914

(Our Bibliography has no Pretension at being Complete)

The Táin has been analysed by J.T. Gilbert, in the facsimilé edition of LU., pages xvi–xviii, based on O’Curry’s unpublished account written about 1853; by Eugene O’Curry in his “Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History,” pages 28–40, Dublin, 1861; by John Rhys in his “Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion as illustrated by Celtic Heathendom,” page 136, the Hibbert Lectures, London, 1898; by J.A. MacCulloch in “The Religion of the Ancient Celts,” pages 127 and 141, London, 1911; in the Celtic Magazine, vol. xiii, pages 427–430, Inverness, 1888; by Don. Mackinnon in the Celtic Review, vol. iv, page 92, Edinburgh, 1907–8; by H. d’Arbois de Jubainville, in Bibliothèque de l’école des chartes, tome xl, pages 148–150, Paris, 1879; by Bryan O’Looney, in the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Second Series, vol. I, pages 242–248, Dublin, 1879; by H. Lichtenberger, “Le Poème et la Légende des Nibelungen,” pages 432–434, Paris, 1891; by Eleanor Hull, in “A Text Book of Irish Literature,” Pt. I, p. 24, Dublin and London, 1906; by Victor Tourneur, “La Formation du Táin Bó Cúalnge,” in Mélanges Godefroid Kurth, II, 413–424, Liège, 1908; by E.C. Quiggin, in the Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, page 626.

The text of the Táin is found in whole or in part in the facsimilé reprints published by the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, 1870 and following; viz.: the Book of Leinster, folios 53b–104b; the Book of the Dun Cow, folios 55a–82b, and the Yellow Book of Lecan, folios 17a.–53a; in “Die Altirische Heldensage, Táin Bó Cúalnge, herausgegeben von Ernst Windisch, Irische Texte, Extraband, Leipzig, 1905”; from LU. and YBL., by John Strachan and J.G. O’Keeffe, as a supplement to Ériu, vol. i, Dublin, 1904 and fol.; our references to LU. and YBL. are from this edition as far as it appeared; from that point, the references to YBL. are to the pages of the facsimilé edition; the LU. text of several passages also is given by John Strachan in his “Stories from the Tain,” which first appeared in Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge (“The Gaelic Journal”), Dublin; reprinted, London and Dublin, 1908; Max Nettlau, “The Fer Diad Episode of the Tain Bo Cuailnge,” Revue Celtique, tome x, pages 330–346, tome xi, pages 23–32, 318–343; “The Fragment of the Tain Bo Cuailnge in MS. Egerton 93,” Revue Celtique, tome xiv, pages 254–266, tome xv, pages 62–78, 198–208; R. Thurneysen, “Táin Bó Cúailghni nach H. 2. 17,” Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie, Bd. viii, S. 525–554; E. Windisch, “Táin Bó Cúailnge nach der Handschrift Egerton 1782,” Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie, Bd. ix, S. 121–158. The text of “The Fight at the Ford,” from the Murphy MS. 103 (written about 1760), is printed in Irisleabhar Muighe Nuadhad, Dublin, 1911, pp. 84–90.

The Táin has been translated by Bryan O‘Looney in a manuscript entitled “Tain Bo Cualnge. Translated from the original vellum manuscript known as the Book of Leinster, in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. To which are added the ancient Prologues, Prefaces, and the Pretales or Stories, Adventures which preceded the principal Expedition or Tain, from various vellum MSS. in the Libraries of Trinity College and the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, 1872.” (A good translation, for its time. For O’Looney’s works on the Táin, see the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Second Series, Vol. i, No. 11, Polite Literature and Antiquities, Dublin, 1875; for W.J. Hennessy’s, see The Academy, No. 873, Lee, “Dictionary of National Biography,” xxv, 1891, pages 424–425, and V. Tourneur, “Esquisse d’une histoire des études celtiques,” page 90, note 5.) The Royal Irish Academy contains another manuscript translation of the Táin (24, M, 39), by John O’Daly, 1857. It is a wretched translation. In one place, O’Daly speaks of William Rily as the translator. L. Winifred Faraday’s “The Cattle-Raid of Cualnge,” London, 1904, is based on LU. and YBL. Two copies of a complete translation of the LL. text dating from about 1850 is in the possession of John Quinn, Esq., of New York City. H. d’Arbois de Jubainville translated the Táin from the LL. text, but with many omissions: “Enlèvement [du Taureau Divin et] des Vaches de Cooley,” Revue Celtique, tomes xxviii–xxxii, Paris, 1907 and fl. Eleanor Hull’s “The Cuchullin Saga,” London, 1898, contains (pages 111–227) an analysis of the Táin and a translation by Standish H. O’Grady of portions of the Add. 18748 text. “The Táin, An Irish Epic told in English Verse,” by Mary A. Hutton, Dublin, 1907, and Lady Augusta Gregory’s, “Cuchulain of Muirthemne,” London, 1903, are paraphrases. The episode “The Boyish Feats of Cuchulinn” was translated by Eugene O’Curry, “On the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish,” Vol. i, Introduction, pages 359–366, and the episode “The Fight of Ferdiad and Cuchulaind,” was translated by W.K. Sullivan, ibid., Vol. ii, Lectures, Vol. i, Appendix, pages 413–463.

Important studies on the Táin have come from the pen of Heinrich Zimmer: “Über den compilatorischen Charakter der irischen Sagentexte im sogenannten Lebor na hUidre,” Kuhn’s Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung, Bd. xxviii, 1887, pages 417–689, and especially pages 426–554; “Keltische Beiträge,” Zeitschrift für deutsches Alterthum und deutsche Litteratur, Vol. xxxii, 1888, pages 196–334; “Beiträge zur Erklärung irischer Sagentexte,” Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie, Bd. i, pages 74–101, and Bd. iii, pages 285–303. See also, William Ridgeway, “The Date of the first Shaping of the Cuchulainn Saga,” Oxford, 1907; H. d‘Arbois de Jubainville, “Étude sur le Táin Bó Cúalnge,” Revue Celtique, tome xxviii, 1907, pages 17–40; Alfred Nutt, “Cuchulainn, the Irish Achilles,” in Popular Studies in Mythology, Romance and Folklore, No. 8, London, 1900. The Celtic Magazine, Vol. xiii, pages 319–326, 351–359, Inverness, 1888, contains an English translation of a degenerated Scottish Gaelic version taken down by A.A. Carmichael, in Benbecula; the Gaelic text was printed in the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, Vol. ii. In the same volume of the Celtic Magazine, pages 514–516, is a translation of a version of the Táin, taken down in the island of Eigg. Eleanor Hull’s “Cuchulain, the Hound of Ulster,” London, 1911, is a retelling of the story for younger readers. The following, bearing more or less closely upon the Táin, are also to be mentioned: Harry G. Tempest, “Dun Dealgan, Cuchulain’s Home Fort,” Dundalk, 1910; A.M. Skelly, “Cuchulain of Muirtheimhne,” Dublin, 1908; Standish O’Grady, “The Coming of Cuculain,” London, 1894, “In the Gates of the North,” Kilkenny, 1901, “Cuculain, A Prose Epic,” London, 1882 and the same author’s “History of Ireland: the Heroic Period,” London, 1878–80; “The High Deeds of Finn, and other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland,” by T.W. Rolleston, London, 1910; Stephen Gwynn, “Celtic Sagas Re-told,” in his “To-day and To-morrow in Ireland,” pages 38–58, Dublin, 1903; Edward Thomas, “Celtic Stories,” Oxford, 1911; “Children of Kings,” by W. Lorcan O’Byrne, London, 1904, and “The Boy Hero of Erin,” by Charles Squire, London, 1907.

Among the many poems which have taken their theme from the Táin and the deeds of Cuchulain may be mentioned: “The Foray of Queen Meave,” by Aubrey de Vere, Poetic Works, London, 1882, vol. ii, pages 255–343; “The Old Age of Queen Maeve,” by William Butler Yeats, Collected Works, vol. I, page 41, London, 1908; “The Defenders of the Ford,” by Alice Milligan, in her “Hero Lays,” page 50, Dublin, 1908; George Sigerson, “Bards of the Gael and the Gall,” London, 1897; “The Tain-Quest,” by Sir Samuel Ferguson, in his “Lays of the Western Gael and other Poems,” Dublin, 1897; “The Red Branch Crests, A Trilogy,” by Charles Leonard Moore, London, 1906; “The Laughter of Scathach,” by Fiona Macleod, in “The Washer of the Ford and Barbaric Tales”; Hector Maclean, “Ultonian Hero-Ballads collected in the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland,” Glasgow, 1892; ballad versions from Scotland are found in Leabhar na Feinne, pages 1 and fol., in J.G. Campbell’s “The Fians,” pages 6 and fol., and in the Book of the Dean of Lismore.

Finally, scenes from the Táin have been dramatized by Canon Peter O’Leary, in the Cork “Weekly Examiner,” April 14, 1900 and fol., by Sir Samuel Ferguson, “The Naming of Cuchulain: A Dramatic Scene,” first played in Belfast, March 9, 1910; in “The Triumph of Maeve,” A Romance in dramatic form, 1906; “Cuchulain,” etc., (A Cycle of Plays, by S. and J. Varian, Dublin), and in “The Boy-Deeds of Cuchulain,” A Pageant in three Acts, performed in Dublin in 1909.

Táin Bó Cúailnge
English translation by Joseph Dunn (1914)
Cover: Táin Bó Cúailnge trans. Joseph Dunn (1914)